Why the Kia Sedona is Changing the Way We Think About Minivans

14 Oct

sedona2Minivans get a bad rap. They’re implicitly associated with soccer moms, dubbed “family haulers” as if a vehicle equipped to safely and comfortably transport our most precious cargo is bland.  After all, the Voyagers and Odysseys that featured prominently in many Americans’ childhoods made the family station wagon look like a Lamborghini in comparison.

But times have changed. The minivan has been replaced atop the family hauler rankings by SUVs and crossovers, as even people whose day-to-day car use primarily involves children, dogs, and groceries were given the opportunity to look stylish while doing so. Yet despite much of the industry shifting its focus elsewhere, one company has demonstrated the ability to make a minivan more appealing than any that have come before it: Kia.

The Kia Sedona is a perfect distillation of what happened to Kias when German designer Peter Schreyer made the jump from Audi. The Sedona just doesn’t look like a conventional minivan, but more like a subtly designed crossover that just happens to be on the long side and feature sliding side doors. The Sedona is even higher off the ground than traditional minivans; its 6.7” of ground clearance put it just over an inch lower to the ground than a Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier.

It turns out we weren’t the only ones impressed by the redesigned Sedona. The Sedona won the 2015 J.D. Power APEAL award for minivans, an award that recognizes vehicles that car owners are proud to drive. When Cars.com and PBS joined forces to crown the Ultimate Minivan, the winner was – you guessed it – the redesigned Sedona.

If Americans ever stop driving minivans, it will only be because they stop calling vehicles like the Kia Sedona a minivan. Kia calls it a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV,) and while that’s true, there is something satisfying about knowing that at least one company can make a minivan that can both move people and turn heads.